Glenn Close is out of Sunset tonight

Glenn Close is out of Sunset tonight


norman lebrecht

April 21, 2016

English National Opera have announced that the star is sick.

She’ll be replaced tonight by Ria Jones.



  • Richard Gibbs says:

    An early close for the season, perhaps

    • Delphine1962 says:

      Dear Richard, I really don’t think so; Ria Jones is a highly gifted and charismatic actress and it’s my experience that when the “high draw” of someone so obviouly wonderful as Glenn Close is indisposed, the audience will rally and support, and often give the stand-in/replacement the opportunity to shine.

      • David McCarthy says:

        I was at the show tonight and was thoroughly unhappy that Glenn Close did not appear. Sorry to read that she has a slipped disc but that doesn’t alter the fact that I paid a lot of money to see her, not her understudy. I asked for a refund and was told that there were no refunds. This is unacceptable, money was taken and the theatre did not deliver what I paid for.

        • Halldor says:

          LOL – spot-on parody of an entitled, ignorant philistine who’s never bothered to read the basic Terms and Conditions on which they’ve bought their tickets. Brilliant stuff!

          • David McCarthy says:

            No need for rudeness, which really is ignorant I paid £81 to see the show with Glenn Close and I feel the theatre cheated me (and many others) by not delivering what I paid for and refusing a refund.

        • Halldor says:

          Sorry – I didn’t think you could possibly be being serious (and I suspect you still aren’t, using terms like “cheated”). ENO didn’t sell you a ticket to see Glenn Close; they sold you a ticket to see Sunset Boulevard. When you buy a ticket from a theatre you enter a contract with them, and you agree to the terms and conditions of that contract. See here (Point 1.10):

          ENO honoured its part of the contract, and delivered exactly what you’d paid for – from what I’ve heard, superbly. If you weren’t even aware of the terms…well, people can draw their own conclusions from that. But anyway, have you nothing positive to say about Ria Jones’s performance? Plenty of folk are saying it was exceptional.

          • FREDERIC says:

            Sorry But ENO didn’tsell Sunset Boulevard but GELNN CLOSE in Sunset Boulevard. They have to refund people who paid a very expensive travel to go and see her

          • Rds says:

            ENO sold tickets for Glenn Close starring in Sunset Boulevard and not the other way round. To suggest otherwise is nonsense. No one in their right mind would pay £150 to see Ria Jones play in a concert performance no matter how good she is. ENO should have offered refunds for those who wished it.

            This stunt will kill ticket sales in future if ENO try to host another star for a short run. Who is going to risk being stung next time?

          • garry says:

            As Glenn Close has her name above the title of the show, They are selling her above the show, I am sure i read somewhere that of the stars name is above the show title people were entitled to a refund opr a ticket to another performance

          • David says:

            What makes you assume that I purchased my ticket direct from ENO? I purchased it from a reputable agency who referred me to ENO re a requested refund. ENO have in turn said that it was the Show’s Producers who are refusing to refund. They are all passing the buck.

            The Show was sold on the pulling power of Glenn Close and when she didn’t turn up the powers that be SHOULD have offered refunds to those who requested it. As for the lady who took on the role in place of Glenn Close, she was ‘OK’ but to be honest, I wouldn’t have paid good money to see her.

        • Saxon Broken says:

          No theatre could ever guarantee an exact cast. And no concert hall could guarantee the exact composition of the orchestra.

          • David says:

            An exact cast…….no of course that cannot be guaranteed but the issue with Sunser Boulevard is that it was sold on a ‘star’ performance i.e. Glenn Close and when she failed to turn up refunds should have been offered. I’ve had tickets for other West End shows in the past where refunds were offered in cases where the ‘star’ was indisposed and I see no reason why Sunset Boulevard should be any different.

          • Jeffrey says:

            I work for the Shubert organization New York City selling tickets at telecharge. It as always customary to refund entire orders when a star whose name is above the title is out. The people who lost money attempting to see Miss Close absolutely should be refunded their money.

        • Pwyatt says:

          Every show in every theatre ever has understudys in case a performer is ill. It’s just the way it is. Nobody can guarantee a performer.

          • Rds says:

            That’s nonsense – a star is a star. People bought tickets to see Glenn Close not an understudy. It’s comparable to buying a ticket to see Elton John in concert and when you get there the promoters offer you a tribute act instead. Refunds are due and ENO are acting like a dodgy promoter. It’ll come back to haunt them if they try this kind of show again. Michael Grade needs to put his hand in his pocket and offer refunds.

    • Andrew Webb says:

      I applied for a refund using the information provided from the theatre on the day. I sent a short and polite email. They gave me a full refund plus a discount coupon to redeem against another performance. I am quite happy but really disappointed not to see Glen. Ria Jones was and is amazing.

      • David says:

        Who did you get your refund from?

      • Jan May says:

        I’m confused – you got a refund? Only you when lots of people have complained? Could you please clarify who/where you emailed so that those of us who have not been refunded can email too. Thanks.

    • Gary Overton says:

      Havin requested again for a refund I received this rude and abrupt reply. How dare they

      Thankyou for your recent e-mail. Your comments about our production are obviously your own opinion, which of course we respect. In answer to your specific point about refunds, no refund been made by GL (Sunset) Ltd nor the ENO to our knowledge. 

      For the sake of clarity, please review again the terms and conditions of sale of tickets from the ENO website attached. We draw your attention to cluses 1.10, 4 and 5. Conditions of sale are the same if you purchased either in person or online from the box office. If you purchased elsewhere, then your discussion will need to be directly with that specific vendor or agent.

      We will not engage in any more correspondence about the non-appearance of Glenn Close, and attach a recent article from the Daily Telegraph which puts even better than we can the whole issue in sensible perspective.

      We now regard the matter as closed.

      Yours faithfully

      Lord Grade and Michael Linnit

      Im sure not all theatre companies are as haughtly, please post this as often and where ever you feel fit Let’s hope they fold

      • David says:

        What a rude and arrogant reply from Grade and Linnit. They don’t deserve any support from the theatre going public.

  • Robert says:

    At 150 quid a pop I think the audience should have the opportunity of a refund if they so wish.

    In New York it would be unthinkable to substitute a big star like Glenn Close without offering a refund no matter how good Ria Jones is and who, to be fair, most of the audience will have never heard of.

  • V says:

    Never heard of Ria Jones, but she was excellent! There is no guarantee that you will see the main stars in the shows. At least Ria was good and we still enjoyed the show. Hopefully Glenn gets well soon.

  • A j says:

    Glen was off again tonight ,really disappointing !It is what it is!But what annoys me was the hype around Ria Jones.She was not very good and we left at half time.To try and build this up as a show stealing performance is laughable.Just glad I purchased cheap seats!

    • garry says:

      Ria was the first person in the world to play the role of Norma in sunset, She played the role in 1991 when Andrew LLoyd Webber trialed the show at the Sydmonton festival

    • Kay says:

      Half time really?? That’s your problem you thought you were at a sporting event. Intermission is the tetm

  • Jenny says:

    The tickets were sold on the basis of Glenn Close starring in the role and the price reflected that. Ria Jones did her best but she is in no way Glenn Close. The show started late (after the audience had been instructed that they would not be admitted if they arrived late) and was a big disappointment. The theatre did little to keep the audience informed and we only spotted a notice stuck on the wall as we entered the auditorium.
    I hope that Glenn Close is getting better but when an audience is lured into tickets through advertisements of that person it is not surprising that the disappointment becomes evident-and that does NOT make the audience into philistines!

    • Jan says:

      Totally agree, we left at the interval having decided to give the show a chance but starting over 10 minutes late with no announcement or apology was just adding insult to injury.

  • Mark says:

    I also saw Ria on Saturday having seen Glenn a couple of weeks ago.

    For anyone to say the performance was comparable is having a laugh. Ria sang well enough but there was no drama at all in the show.
    There’s not a chance I would have paid £75 a ticket to see it! If Glenn is unable to return then those with tickets should be offered refunds, and the residual tickets sold at the half price ticket booth which is where they would no doubt have ended up had it not been advertised that Glenn Close was taking the lead. In fact, I doubt very many people would have booked at all so the production wouldn’t even have happened.

    • Mich says:

      We saw Glenn Close last weekend and she was incredible. Best theatrical performance we have ever seen. We would have been mortified if she had not been performing. She was the only reason we booked tickets. We are seasoned theatregoers and understand the whole ‘no guarantee’ of seeing the star name – we’ve seen many an understudy and they have always been excellent – but feel this is different.

      Maybe a partial refund would have been better. They would never have got people to pay £150 without Glenn’s star pull. Maybe revert to a standard west end theatre price for anyone who stays for performances during her absence. That way, there would not be such resentment.

      The sad thing is, there has been a lot of vitriol aimed at Glenn herself these past few days- such a dreadful shame after all the wonderful reviews and comments she’s had. Arguments that her understudy ‘is the original Norma’. Ridiculous comments about ‘stunt casting’, stating she should ‘go home’ as she is a Hollywood actress ‘not up to the part’ – all comments made by people who are complaining they didn’t see her!

      Glenn Close is a consumate professional and was a theatre performer way before Hollywood came knocking. She’s apparently spent hours outside the theatre after each show, signing autographes and climbing on cars to ensure she signs as many programmes as possible. Maybe her generosity has been her downfall and that’s why she’s now stuck at home with the flu.

      Do people really think she’s thrilled about letting all these people down? I suspect she is the person most devasted by all of this.

  • Peter says:

    On my only visit to Australia some years ago, I booked tickets at the Sydney Opera House concert hall for what was billed as “Lorin Maazel conducts the Alpine Symphony”. When we arrived in Sydney, we found that Maazel had cancelled, and the programme was now “Russian Spectacular” with Tugan Sokhiev conducting Sheherezade.

    There were no refunds on offer!

  • lucy carvall says:

    so do we know if she is on tonight!

    • Mich says:

      ENO originally stated at lunchtime that she was still ill, only to come back 30 minutes later to say she WILL perform this evening. Either the ENO have a communication problem or Ms Close is being put under enormous pressure to return before she is fully fit. I hope it is the former.

  • Jaybuyer says:

    I went to London to see Will Young starring in Cabaret. He pulled out of the Wednesday matinee. Later, Cabaret went on tour and I booked to see Will Young at a matinee performance in Wolverhampton. Again he pulled out. No refunds offered, of course. Fortunately the stand-ins were excellent. Last winter I booked to see Jonas Kaufmann in Carmen at Covent Garden. When he withdrew, I was sent an apologetic email from CG and was invited to phone the box office if I wasn’t happy. The staff there were very helpful and offered to exchange my ticket for a different opera in that season. Disappointments are regrettable but singers are, after all, only human beings.

    • Sean O'Mara says:

      Many years ago I was taking my mother to see Maggie Smith in A Delicate Balance. Unfortunately Dame Maggie’s husband died and she (completely understandably) withdrew). The theatre phoned me and offered a full refund. It is very disingenuous of the ENO not to offer refunds for a production all about Ms Close.

  • Sad Lady says:

    I am very frustrated about this. We paid a lot of money to see Glenn Close, more than I would have paid to see a standard show. We thought long and hard about seeing this production as it wasn’t the full show it was billed as a “Semi Staged” production. If we had booked tickets for a standard musical I would fully accept we are paying for the full spectacle and would have to accept an understudy but in this instance I feel the marketing was fully focused around Ms Close and we were buying tickets more in the vain of a concert.

  • Sean O'Mara says:

    I am absolutely livid. I paid £150 each per ticket to see GLENN CLOSE. I booked MONTHS ago when it was first advertised in the Times before it was even announced it is semi-staged. As others have said, this production was a production about GLENN CLOSE making her West End debut in a show she starred on Broadway in. Had it been promoted as Rita Jones (or whoever she is) I would not have booked to see it.

    Anyone who thinks people have paid large sums to see a semi-staged show regardless of who the leading lady is (in a show all about the leading lady) is deluded and arrogant!

  • Gary Overton says:

    Sunset Boulevard – London Coliseum

    Having paid over the odds to see Glenn Close in sunset boulevard at the London Coliseum we were utterly disappointed when we turned up and told Ms Close would not be performing and that no refunds or exchanges would be given and TUFF, but write in and see what the organisation who put show on says, we then we read the following
    Sunset Boulevard understudy wins over booing crowd after Glenn Close falls ill
    It is the stuff of an understudy’s nightmares: waiting in the wings as a baying audience demands their money back because the show’s Hollywood star cannot perform.
    But Ria Jones was left triumphant as she stepped in to Glenn Close’sSunset Boulevard shoes, after waiting 25 years to play the role in the spotlight.

    Jones, a Welsh singer, faced furious boos and walk-outs after it was announced Close was unwell, with audience members paying up to £150 to see the American actress left disappointed.

    By the end of the night, she received what one audience member described as one of the longest standing ovations she had ever seen on the London stages.
    Remarkably, Jones was among the young stars who helped Lord Lloyd Webber develop Sunset Boulevard at a workshop for the Sydmonton Festival in 1991. Despite taking starring turns in numerous other musicals, this was the first time she has taken the role of Norma in a production of her own.
    Speaking after the performance, Jones, 49, said she had been “gob-smacked” by the reception, revealing she had never sung with the 51-piece orchestra before.
    Close, who has received rave reviews for her role as Norma Desmond inSunset Boulevard, was taken ill on Thursday, and was unable to perform on doctor’s orders.
    When ticket-holders arrived at the London Coliseum, they were greeted by notices in the foyer telling them the news, with many descending on the box office to demand a refund and replacement tickets.
    When a member of staff took to the stage to announce Jones, Close’s official alternate, would be performing the role instead, he was met with furious boos and catcalls, with members of a packed house shouting: “Give us our money back”.

    What lies. We booed because it was awful. Jones’ staccato vibrato dislodged fillings. The applause came because it was easy to appreciate the difficulties that the cast endured after Close had a touch of the vapours. No refunds were offered by Coliseum staff, bucks were passed to the ENO which is about as likely to refund our spoiled nights expenditure as it is to brew Earl Grey in a chocolate teapot! The lies, the lies, that some hacks will publish – unbelievable!

    We wrote to the English National Opera with the following and received this curt reply

    Our letter to the ENO

    Having asked for a refund for the tickets bought to see Glenn Close’s performance, I was told to contact you directly as refunds could not be given at the box office. The tickets were highly priced for a reason – offering the audience an opportunity to see a legend playing a legend. Refunds should have been offered without question. I feel very very cheated as I was one of the many who had to leave at the interval because Ms Jones’ performance was unintelligibly shrill – listening to it was an awful experience. If this is how ENO treats its ticket buyers, I’m disgusted. As was the view that many others that attended this performance.

    Also disappointed by the attitude of the London Coliseum Theatre staff who point blank refused to discuss any type of compensation or refund with the very many patrons who had purposefully come to see Ms Close not an understudy.

    Awaiting a refund still. For a spoilt and expensive evening! Its not just the ticket costs incurred for incidents like this. Some of us had to pay top whack rates for hotels and transport just to attend Ms. Closes’ performance!

    I have attached copies of the tickets and receipts for tickets

    This is the utterly cruddy response you get from representatives of the English National Opera when you request a refund after they fail to deliver quality “goods”, but still charge top dollar for performances fronted by “extras” who are so bad they trigger mass exits of theatre goers at the interval.

    The ENO Reply

    “Dear Theatregoer,

    We are writing about your visit to “Sunset Boulevard” recently, at which performance Glenn Close was unable to perform due to illness.

    We understand that there was some disappointment – shared by us as well, but we are delighted that our decision to cast and fully rehearse Ria Jones as Understudy Norma Desmond has been so well received by audience and press alike, and caused so much interest. Ria in fact created the role when Sunset Boulevard was first workshopped by Andrew Lloyd Webber in the early 1990’s, but was at that time too young to perform the role for an audience.

    You can imagine how thrilled we all are that we have had in this short run two of the most significant Normas in the history of this musical able to revisit the role to such an amazing response from their audiences.

    There have been some requests for exchange tickets for another performance when Glenn Close will be performing, but with, as we write this, only fourteen performances left we do not have sufficient seats to exchange.

    It remains for us to suggest for those who have sought a refund that the production that they saw was fully of the standard that we had planned, a magnificent production by Lonny Price fully endorsed by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

    This of course would be different if were presenting a long season or a run when there could be obvious opportunities for exchanges

    We look forward to welcoming you to our future productions at the London Coliseum.
    Yours faithfully

    Lord Grade and Michael Linnit”

    We agreed that it was in the terms and conditions but some leeway could have been made and this is why the West End is failing as it has little or no respect for the paying customers that line the very deep pockets of the likes of Lord Grade, Andrew Lloyd Webber and the like

  • Harry says:

    If you paid by credit card, is it possible to complain to them to get the refund? The marketing most definitely sells this is Glenn Close – obviously no one would pay that price for someone relatively unknown.

  • Huw Jones says:

    I also emailed ENO – but have had zero response from all of my chasing emails – does anyone have a good email address that gains a response – a very basic customer service expectation I would have thought. They gave me the email address at the venue – it doesn’t bounce back, it just doesn’t get responded to!

    Is there any true outcome on this – it was mentioned in Private Eye last week, but seems to have dwindled and died. I also spent £100’s on tickets and travel which I would not have done were it not for Glenn Close.

    I suspect they are being aloof and sneering at the “little people” who can only afford to go to a show once in a while. If nothing else, I assume Glenn Close isn’t being paid for the shows she isn’t in – so there is definitely some spare cash sloshing around the ENO somewhere that’s been taken from “customers” (I use the word contemptuously) but not paid out to the “talent”.

  • Jan May says:

    Confess I’ve given up and thrown out my ticket stubs. I’ll learn from my mistake and NEVER buy tickets in advance again. I’ll take a chance and get them on the door IF the star IS starring and NEVER from the ENO again. My first and last encounter with them. We hear about how theatre is struggling but this sort of thing is why!

  • Alison j says:

    I sent a polite email asking them to address some queries I had !I got an acknowledgement but then no answer to any of the points I raised!Really arrogant people to deal with and will avoid their productions like the plaque in future!

  • AlanM says:

    I will NEVER again book any show that involves that woman. A few years back we had tickets to see Streetcar at the NT. She was a no-show for weeks. I had seen that play numerous times and never would have gone to see it again if she weren’t in it. There wasn’t even a pre-show announcement and certainly no refunds. Disgraceful.